BEST FOOT FOR­WARD

Australian Geographic Outdoor - - Adventure -

SWITZER­LAND IS Europe’s most moun­tain­ous coun­try, but you don’t have to climb to the very pointy part of those peaks to en­joy them – hik­ing through the val­leys and around the flanks of the volup­tuous hills is just as en­joy­able an ex­pe­ri­ence, com­ing com­plete with all the Toblerone-style vis­tas and of­ten pos­si­ble in shorts and Tshirt, but mi­nus much of the huff­ing, puff­ing and pant­ing.

DAY­DREAM ROUTES

The 17.6km Four-Lake Hike is a five-hour per­am­bu­la­tion in the cen­tral Joch­pass re­gion, which is one of Switzer­land’s best sin­gle-day ad­ven­tures. The four-pud­dle route leads in­ter­lop­ers along a trail that wends around the won­der­fully hued H2O of the mag­i­cal Melch, blue-eyed Engstlen, turquoise Tan­nen and fi­nally the translu­cent Trüeb­see, where the shim­mer­ing face of an aquatic alpine mir­ror turns sur­round­ing moun­tains – in­clud­ing tow­er­ing Mt Titlis – up­side down.

Start from the sta­tion of Melch­see-Frutt, pass the lit­tle chapel, mooch by Lake Melch and Tan­nen Lake, and then trek to­wards Tan­nalp. Af­ter you’ve dropped down to ap­pre­ci­ate the azure al­lure of Engstlen Lake – a pic­turesque place for a pic­nic – the as­cent to Joch­pass beck­ons, tak­ing you up and over the toes of the Titlis Mas­sive. Your sweat and sweat­ing are am­ply re­warded when you reach the sen­sa­tional sad­dle, which strad­dles the di­vide be­tween the Ber­nese Ober­land and Cen­tral Switzer­land, with eye-pop­ping views over Trüeb­see, the fin­ish­ing point shim­mer­ing and wink­ing at you to come hither.

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For more one-day dal­liances with Europe’s most co­quet­tish coun­try­side, check out the low-traf­fic trail from Pf­in­g­stegg to the hut at Bäregg, above the lower Grindel­wald glacier, or lux­u­ri­ate in the land­scape on dis­play dur­ing the me­an­der from Mür­ren to the Lauter­brun­nen val­ley floor. Al­ter­na­tively, test your knees and lungs dur­ing the oneway hilly hike from sen­sa­tional Schynige Platte to the sum­mit sta­tion of the Grindel­wald-First ca­ble­way (take the easy way down), or wan­der the na­tional Swiss Wil­liam Tell Path from Rütli to Bauen. Still got en­ergy to burn? Go and gal­lop the Glacier Trail be­tween Bettmer­horn and Fi­escher­alp, via Grosses Gufer and Mär­je­len lakes, or dare to leg wres­tle the ogre on the iconic Eiger Trail from Grindel­wald to Alpiglen sta­tion, con­tem­plat­ing the dark moun­tain’s in­fa­mous Mord­wand (Mur­der Wall) as its no­to­ri­ous North Face frowns down from above.

You don't have to climb to the very pointy part of those peaks to en­joy them – hik­ing the val­leys and flanks of the volup­tuous hills is just as en­joy­able…

MUL­TI­DAY MEANDERS

For a longer es­capade, con­sider the Hin­tere­gasse, an eight­day mis­sion through the Ber­nese Ober­land. This alpine epic is for those who love to prop­erly im­merse them­selves in moun­tain scenery, overnight­ing in huts op­er­ated by the Swiss Alpine Club, high-el­e­va­tion eyries of­fer­ing stun­ning views across the val­leys and peaks.

The route’s moniker won’t ap­peal to those with a bab­ble­fish im­plant, trans­lat­ing from Ger­man to English as ‘rear al­ley’, but don’t worry, we’re not giv­ing you a bum steer and this is far from an arse-end amble. The name, which can also be in­ter­preted as ‘back­street’, refers to the fact that this trail is an um­bili­cus be­tween Switzer­land’s pre­alpine en­vi­ron­ment and the coun­try’s crack­ing high-alpine peaks, which also gives you a clue to the el­e­va­tion gain in­volved. But you’re here to get high, right? Well, there’s no bet­ter way to score that alpine buzz than by suck­ing hard on some in­creas­ingly oxy­gen-light alpine air.

An it­er­a­tion of the route is also known to the Swiss as the Bären­trek (Bear Trek), al­though sadly (or gladly, de­pend­ing on how you look at it) the real bears have long dis­ap­peared from this lofty part of Europe.

Start­ing from Meirin­gen, the route rambles up to Kleine Schei­degg (2061m), a dra­matic and drop-dead gor­geous pass be­tween the im­pos­ing Eiger and lovely Lauber­horn peaks. From there you stroll to Se­finen­furgge (2612m), cross­ing the col be­tween the Hund­shore and Büt­lasse Ho­htürli. Then head through Hah­nen­moospass (1950m), which splits the peaks of Re­gen­bold­shorn and Al­bristhorn, to Trütlis­berg Pass (2072m) and to fi­nally aim for Chrine.

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Un­for­tu­nately, wild camp­ing doesn’t fly in highly reg­u­lated Switzer­land – and there’s scarcely any level land to pitch your tent and lay your head any­way. How­ever, you can splice to­gether some awe­some overnight foot-pow­ered ad­ven­tures by stay­ing at inns, pen­sions and huts all through the Ober­land and many other ar­eas, such as the En­gadin in the south east, where an Alpine val­ley traces the River Inn right across the coun­try, from just west of glitzy St Moritz to Aus­tria.

Mul­ti­day hik­ers can also con­sider tak­ing on the sen­sa­tional Haute Route, an ab­so­lute alpine clas­sic that con­nects Mont Blanc in Cha­monix, France, with the mar­vel­lous Mat­ter­horn above Zer­matt, in Switzer­land. The route is non-tech­ni­cal and stays com­fort­ably be­low 3000m, but it is a 12-day com­mit­ment (and well worth ev­ery minute).

You can splice to­gether some awe­some overnight foot-pow­ered ad­ven­tures by stay­ing at inns, pen­sions and huts all through the Ober­land

Pic: Switzer­land Tourism/Lu­cia De­gonda

The small church on the shores of Lake Melch at Melch­see-Frutt, a hol­i­day re­sort above the Melch Val­ley, Ob­walden.

High al­ti­tude hik­ing is one of the most pop­u­lar out­door ac­tiv­i­ties in Switzer­land and it is easy to see why. Pic: Switzer­land Tourism/Lorenz Andreas Fis­cher

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